Child sex trafficking is a current epidemic in the United States. Being the second largest criminal industry in the world, the impact of human trafficking, especially among our youth should not be taken lightly. Currently, research has shown that the United States is one of 10 top destinations in the world for human trafficking, child sex trafficking included. As a result of the increase of child sex trafficking in the United States, programs are being pursued, on every level, to attempt to eliminate this social problem. The impact on child sex trafficking victims is substantial. They suffer from potential long lasting psychological problems and experience physical and emotional trauma. These children are at risk of getting HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. They also have a higher increased risk of committing suicide. Implications to better protect all children from becoming a victim of child sex trafficking are given. Reasonably new characteristics of this topic are offered for potential directions for future research.
Child Sex Trafficking in the United States
Child sex trafficking is a horrible crime that is a major violation of the child’s human rights, and an extreme life-threatening form of child maltreatment (Rafferty, 2008, p. 13). Child trafficking includes the buying, selling, or stealing of children for an individual’s personal benefit. The illegal trade of children, sexual and non-sexual, is just one of the contributors to the extensive universal problem of human trafficking (Meier, 2008, p. 186). Benjamin S. Buckland (2008, p. 42), a self-employed political scholar in Geneva, describes human trafficking as a social phenomenon in which people are transported for the purpose of being exploited. Buckland’s definition is applicable for all types of human trafficking, including child sex trafficking. Unbeknownst to many, there are several types of human trafficking that are prospering throughout the world. Trafficking of women and men for forced labor, trafficking of children for commercial exploitation, and trafficking of women and children for sexual exploitation are all forms of human trafficking found throughout the world, including in the United States. Despite what countless Americans believe, the existence of this epidemic is found right in front of us. Understanding the Problem
Human trafficking is now ranked second among the quickest growing criminal industries worldwide. The illegal trade of humans, the practice of human trafficking, is generally misinterpreted as only an international problem (Moser, 2012, p. 222). The prevalence of child sex trafficking in the United States is shocking. Although it is difficult to define what a successful child sex trafficking industry looks like, research has shown that countries that have a culture of tolerance, like that of the United States, contribute to a thriving child sex trafficking market (Kotrla, 2010, p. 182). Since America is a well-developed nation and serves as an advocate to freedom, justice, and equality for all humans, all around the globe, the flourishing presence of child sex trafficking most likely does come as a surprise to many. Reports of trafficking have been recorded in over 90 cities in the United States. With tens of thousands of people being trafficked into America annually, one can see why the United States has become one of the top 10 destinations in the world for human trafficking (Hepburn & Simon, 2010, p. 3). Types of Human Trafficking
There are several types of human trafficking, all of which are equally serious, that occur throughout the world. It is important to remember that all of these types of human trafficking, not just child sex trafficking, can be found throughout the United States. To gain a better understanding of the factors associated with child sex trafficking, a look into the other types of human trafficking will be taken.